The package includes a target to cut emissions 40% by 2030 on 1990 levels, and a target for 27% renewables in the energy mix by 2030, which is binding at European but not at the national level.
The Commission did not include a much demanded target on boosting energy efficiency, and also presented proposals on emissions trading and fracking regulation.
Green groups and European businesses have labelled the proposals as “weak” and accused the Commission and its President Jose Barroso of bowing to the lobbying of dirty industry and fossil fuel-fixated governments, such as the UK and Poland.
They warn the proposals – celebrated by the fossil fuel industry – show the EU has “opted for less growth, fewer jobs and more spending on fossil fuel imports”.
Jason Anderson, Head of Climate and Energy – WWF European Policy Office said:
After months of anticipation, the Commission has repackaged a slowdown in the current pace of emissions cuts and renewable energy deployment, and called it ambitious. It is putting Europe’s economic modernisation at risk. The picture painted by the full set of policy proposals is dispiriting – an energy efficiency target has been deferred; cancelling the massive oversupply of carbon in the Emissions Trading Scheme is also deferred; closing the gaps in EU shale gas legislation is deferred. I’m sure the fossil fuel lobbyists will sleep well tonight.
Groups say the Commission’s targets will fail to boost vital efforts to increase energy efficiency and accelerate the continent’s booming renewables industry, and will instead “stifle investment” and “reduce the competitiveness” of Europe’s economy.
Today’s proposal fails to live up to what the science requires and “flies in the face” of what European citizens, civil society groups and progressive businesses are calling for.
EREC’s President, Rainer Hinrichs-Rahlwes said:
Just five years ago, the Commission sent the signal to investors that renewable energy was to be the future for Europe. Now, the Commission is acting in reverse-mode, setting a cap for renewables, not a target for 2030. If you wanted to shift investments further away from Europe, you would go about it no other way. The Commission is weakening the EU’s international competitiveness and industrial leadership.
The proposal ignores calls from green groups,businesses, scientists and European citizens for stronger multiple targets on emissions reductions, renewable energy and energy efficiency, which – according to the Commission’s own figures – would deliver more jobs, an increase in GDP, savings on health costs and reduced dependency of energy imports worth hundreds of billions of Euros.
It also fails to deliver Europe’s fair share of the emissions reductions needed to keep the world below 2°C of warming, and could lead to “unmanageable climate risk.”
While the proposed 40% emissions cut is the toughest climate change target of any major economic region, it still sets a “dangerously low benchmark” ahead of the 2015 deadline for a global climate deal.
Green groups say today’s low target sends the “wrong signal” to other high-emitting nations and leaves the EU with very little leverage in the international climate arena.
They warn it could ultimately set the 2015 climate summit in Paris up “to fail.”
Focus will now turn to EU Member States to fill the gap left by the Commission and agree a much stronger package of measures in March, addressing the reality of climate change, protecting European citizens and businesses, and showing the leadership needed from the EU.
Nick Mabey, CEO E3G said:
With these weak proposals, the European Commission has failed to deliver science-based proposals needed to keep the world within 2 degrees of warming. This will stifle investment and reduce the competitiveness of the European economy. European Member States must now fill the gap left by the Commission and agree a stronger package in March that addresses the realities of climate risk and protects the fundamental interests of European citizens and businesses.